About 20 percent of school-aged children, 18 years and younger, struggle with mental health issues in America today. Mental health issues lead to greater rates of suicide, depression, loneliness, anxiety, and bullying that takes place in and out of schools. This exploratory multiple case study looks at how 10 fourth graders, five male and five female, use a weekly entry in a dialogue journal letter to their teacher to share their emotional lives. I explore how a dialogue journal can open up a space between students and teachers for emotional aspects of life and learning to be included in schools. This study specifically explores what children say about their lives and feelings in a dialogue journal across a period of a school year. I also inquire into changes in a period of crisis teaching when a worldwide pandemic closes down school and children are forced into distance learning in their homes. We find that 1) students can share feelings, ideas and parts of themselves with me in a dialogue journal that they don't share in class, 2) the journal provides a space for them to elaborate upon and become more aware of their feelings, 3) students seek to have a personal connection with their teacher, 4) students have comments and feedback about what is happening in the classroom, and 5) the student's entries affected my immediate practices as a teacher and added insights and ideas for future practices on how I could have been even more supportive to the students.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education



Date Submitted


Document Type





mental health, socio-emotional learning, emotional development, dialogue journal, elementary schooling



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Education Commons